The Acer Aspire 1 is a VALUE laptop that gives you access to your digital life online and media consumption for much less. Then, it tops it with a good design, a 1920-by-1080 non-IPS screen and decent battery life.
PROS: Inexpensive for a Windows 10 system. 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Decent battery life.
CONS: Lacks VGA and USB-C ports.
The Acer Aspire 1 is a budget laptop that’s a lot less expensive than most Chromebooks. If Windows is a must-have, then it’s a safe buy without a second though, otherwise you’d opt for a Chromebook. It’s designed to offer easy access to your digital life online, and includes a bunch of complimentary services from Microsoft, such as Windows 10 Home, OneDrive and a month’s subscription of Microsoft Office.
It isn’t a speed demon, but it does get you to the Internet, lets you process word documents and spreadsheets, and consume media on the Full HD screen. Think of the Aspire 1 netbook as an inexpensive Windows 10-based competitor to Chrome OS-based laptops. It’s no match for the Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM, but it costs much less, and is a solid, usable value laptop for those with modest wallets and computing needs.
The system is clad in a charcoal-gray polycarbonate (plastic) exterior, except for a few brushings that give the lid some texture, and enhance the grip as well as conceal minor scratches. Measuring 0.7 by 13.5 by 9.65 inches (HWD), and weighing in at a relatively light 3.64 pounds, the system is portable enough, just like most Chromebooks. You don’t get a DVD drive, which helps keep the system so thin.
It’s just about a quarter of an inch deeper than the 13-inch ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH54 (0.5 by 12.7 by 0.5), which isn’t far much apart. The system is also only 1 pound heavier than the ZenBook, a difference that you’d be hard pressed to notice even when held on both hands.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Acer did a good job in designing a solidly build system, without the common flex in the keyboard, base or top of the lid. The chiclet-style keyboard is comfortable with nice keystrokes. It doesn’t get much key travel, but your fingers will adopt easily to the speedy touch typing. The one-piece touchpad is wide enough, with support for standard multi-touch commands like two-finger scrolling and tapping when using Windows 10.
The 14-inch screen has a full HD (1920-by-1080) resolution. That’s pretty good for a bargain system, considering that majority come with a 1,366-by-768 resolution, like the ASUS L402SA. The screen doesn’t support, and it is not the brightest around, since you can spot grid patterns when watching HD movies. Still, the screen is perfectly adequate for Web surfing, YouTube videos.
The system’s front facing webcam shoots 640-by-480 resolution, slightly below the 1080p most webcams capture. Still, it isn’t bad for quick Skype chats with friends, but isn’t the best for impromptu business meetings, especially if you’re away from your station.
Connectivity and Storage
Port selection is good. On the left, you’ll find an HDMI port, an SD card reader and a USB 3.0 port. On the right are two USB 2.0 ports – for connecting a mouse or printer, a headphone jack and a Power jack for connecting the adapter. The speakers are on the bottom, and are loud enough for listening to music or video, and can fill a small room. Wireless connectivity comes via 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Being an inexpensive system, the feature set is fairly modest. The Aspire 1 has 4GB of system memory and 32GB of embedded MMC (eMMC) flash storage. This is in the same ballpark with most chromebooks like the Acer Chromebook 14, and much less than the 1TB, 5,400rpm hard drive in the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM. You can always supplement the local storage with an SD card (128GB maximum) or an external hard drive via the USB 3.0 port for fast write speeds.
With a 1.1GHz Intel Celeron N3450 dual-core processor and Intel HD graphics, the Aspire 1 will handle most of your basic tasks. Though, not thrilling by any means. In fact, I’m hard pressed to classify it as a desktop-replacement laptop, since it can’t handle most of your office projects, especially if your core is on spreadsheets. Plus, it lacks a full-size keyboard that would accommodate a number pad, making it a bad choice for anyone who deals in numbers in the office. If that describes part of your daily workflow, the 15-inch Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM is worth a look.
It scores well as a media consumption device, that will allow you stream movies, watch videos, web browsing and handle basic office tasks. Gaming is on the single-digit side, so don’t even think of playing high-spec games on the system. One area it excels is battery life. It lasted 7 hours 16 minutes in our tests, which is enough to last a cross-country flight.